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TV Episodes No One Wants To Watch More Than Once

The best TV episodes are the ones that can be watched over and over again—the episodes that, no matter how many times you've seen them, you catch something new, or delight in a favorite joke, dramatic moment, or bravura performance. On the other side of the spectrum, you have episodes that are unforgettably, undeniably great—but because they put you through so much actual anguish or palpable discomfort, you just can't bear to give them a second look. Here are some classic TV episodes that nobody wants to revisit.

Futurama, Jurassic Bark

Nothing pulls at the heartstrings quite like the relationship between a boy and his dog. Futurama often interjected deep emotion into its otherwise wacky science-fiction plots—when Fry finds out his brother devoted his life in memory of his "missing" brother, or Leela finally meets her birth parents, for example. But none packed a wallop quite like the episode about Fry's dog. After some dark comedy in which Fry finds the 1,000-year-old skeleton of his beloved dog, Seymour, the show flashes back to their time together in the 1990s. The episode then ends with Fry figuring somebody must have adopted Seymour. Then the audience gets one more flashback of Seymour waiting outside the pizza joint where Fry worked, every day for years, growing old, and then quietly passing away. Now we're all crying.

Game of Thrones, The Door

For the first few seasons of Game of Thrones, Hodor (Kristian Nairn) was a reliably comforting, if somewhat mysterious, presence. A hulking giant, he was tasked with carrying the crippled Bran Stark across the wilderness on his back, while also establishing a psychic link with the boy that also included, in lack of a better phrase, time-travel dreams. Through it all, the only word Hodor can say is "Hodor."

Without getting into too much detail, Bran and Hodor established a sort of psychic link—and it proved particularly poignant during the season six episode "The Door." Two long-arcing plots—Bran's time-traveling discovery of his family's past, and his flight from the White Walkers in the present—came to a head during a pitched battle. The action flashed back to Hodor as a child, having a traumatic emotional episode triggered by Bran's psychic presence, then rapidly cycled between young and adult Hodor as the White Walkers attacked him, Bran, and Meera. In the present, Hodor held the door at the Three-Eyed Raven's cave, allowing Bran and Meera to escape...and himself to be sacrificed. Child Hodor is seen screaming "hold the door!" "hold the door!" over and over until his cries blur into "hodor," and we're taken back to...Hodor. The character's real name was actually Wylis, and throughout the whole series up to that point, the lovable guy was telegraphing his own horrible death.

NewsRadio, Bill Moves On

The 1995-'99 NBC workplace sitcom had one of the most stacked comic casts ever: Dave Foley of The Kids in the Hall, Andy Dick of The Ben Stiller Show, Stephen Root of Office Space, and Phil Hartman, one of the greatest Saturday Night Live cast members ever (not to mention the voice of Troy McClure on The Simpsons). But in May of 1998, Hartman was killed by his wife in a murder-suicide—a horrific tragedy that left the show to deal with his character's sudden death in its poignant fifth season opener. The bulk of the episode centered around the other characters on the show, sitting around and talking about Bill, openly weeping. Obviously, it's not really about Bill—it's 30 minutes of Phil Hartman's friends mourning his death on camera.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Body

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a show about death—"slayer" is right there in the title, and the title character dusts vampires, demons, and monsters multiple times an episode. The only time a death really resonates is when a main character dies: Buffy's mother, Joyce (Kristine Sutherland). She lies down on the couch, and simply doesn't wake up. The episode features Buffy in a very realistic daze during the after-effects of a sudden death, trying to figure out what went wrong and trying to move on with her life, to little avail. The surreal factory is amped up by the quiet—there's no incidental music for the whole episode, making it as quiet as, well, a dead body.

Six Feet Under, That's My Dog

Death also permeates the world of HBO's drama about a family and their funeral home. The most unbearable episode doesn't involve death—merely the absolute terror of dying. David (Michael C. Hall) gets carjacked by a guy named Jake (Michael Weston) who pretends to be a hitchhiker and forces David to drive around Los Angeles endlessly, not knowing if the criminal is going to follow through on his threats to kill him. Jake also forces David to smoke crack, repeatedly shoves a gun in his face, and then douses him in gasoline as if he's going to set him on fire. It's a lot to take for the viewer—and David, who's understandably left emotionally rattled. His post-traumatic stress symptoms affect his character's actions for the rest of the series.

ER, Love's Labor Lost

Part of what made ER great was its unflinching ultra-realism. The frenetic pace and graphic medical imagery made viewers really feel like they were in the emergency room of a big-city hospital. On at least one occasion, that was too much to take—because who wants to feel like they're going through the most difficult and tragic day of their lives if they don't have to? An eight-and-a-half-months pregnant woman (Colleen Flynn) enters the ER complaining of frequent urination, and Dr. Green (Anthony Edwards) diagnoses her with a urinary tract infection, and sends her on her way...and she collapses in the parking lot and returns. Then she has a seizure, and labor has to be induced, there's another seizure, and the baby gets stuck due to a faulty placenta. Ultimately, the woman dies of severe blood loss, but the baby survives. Dr. Green, however, remains broken for a very long time.

The Walking Dead, Last Day on Earth

Throughout The Walking Dead's sixth season, the show, and its promotional campaign, teased the arrival of Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the sadistic Negan, the source comic's most infamous villain. Viewers knew by the time of the finale that he'd kill one of the main characters with Lucille, his baseball bat covered in barbed wire. At the end of the episode, he does an "Eenie-Meanie-Miney-Moe," selects his victim...and the screen cuts to black as the sound of bat hitting brains is graphically delivered. All that waiting...leading up to more waiting to find out who died the next fall. This episode has tons of drama and tension, sure, but it's just too frustrating to watch again.

Black Mirror, The National Anthem

It's pretty bold for a series to come right out of the gate with an incredibly challenging, difficult-to-watch episode, but that's what Black Mirror did. The very first episode involves an unknown cybercriminal who basically holds the U.K. hostage. Claiming to have kidnapped the beloved Princess Susannah, he says she'll be killed unless the prime minister (Rory Kinnear), uh, makes love to a pig on live television. The "big moment" does occur, and is quite awful to watch, but it's only a little bit worse than the depressing, foreboding scenes of the prime minister and his advisors discussing whether or not he should actually do it—and then setting up for it. And since this is Black Mirror, there's a twist ending, revealing that the PM could've called the criminal's bluff.

The Comeback, Valerie Does Another Classic Leno

The Comeback came around in 2005, when the culture was just beginning to explore the sociological and psychological impact of reality TV. Just a year after finishing a ten-year run on the sunny but unchallenging Friends, Lisa Kudrow starred as Valerie Cherish, a washed-up former sitcom actress trying to stage a comeback by starring on a puerile sitcom called Room and Bored in which she plays an old woman. Those are just two of the indignities Valerie suffers but cannot react to—because her attempt at a comeback is being captured by omnipresent reality show cameras. Throughout the show, she also clashes with the show's boorish head writer, Paulie G (Lance Barber). The entire first season is difficult viewing, what with Valerie's dignity being rapidly stripped away—and her complicity in it. But the last episode of the first season is unbearable: she sees an episode of her reality show, The Comeback, and it's been edited in a way that she looks like a sad moron. She pulls out of the reality show, but then, after going on The Tonight Show and finding out that audiences loved it...she signs up to for more.

The Office, Scott's Tots

Along with The Comeback, The Office familiarized audiences with "comedy of the discomfort," that cringe-worthy style that derives laughs from watching others in awkward (if relatable) situations. This makes a lot of episodes of The Office uncomfortable to watch once, let alone twice, because how many times can the awful paper company boss Michael Scott (Steve Carell) mess up and lay waste to his relationships with the few people who can actually tolerate him?

"Scott's Tots" has to be the most devastating episode in cringe-comedy history, because Michael doesn't just screw over himself, he irrevocably disillusions a bunch of innocent children. It seems that a decade earlier, Michael promised a bunch of underprivileged Scranton kids that, if they graduated high school, he'd pay for their college tuition. The school hosts an event to honor Michael, and school administrators, community leaders, and the kids themselves all thank him personally—as all those kids will be graduating, and he's going to foot their college bills. Michael then has to deliver the news: he doesn't have the money, and he never did. Instead, he hands out laptop batteries.